Review of the Student Grant Scheme

By Steven Galvin - Last update

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Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD has announced Government approval to conduct a review of the Student Grant Scheme administered by SUSI.

The review’s terms of reference include examining the value of the maintenance grants and income thresholds, the availability of grants for part-time students, adjacent and non-adjacent rates, supports for postgraduates and how Ireland compares against other jurisdictions.

Minister Harris said:

“The student grant scheme opens the door for many people to access further and higher education. However, the scheme has remained static despite significant changes in Irish society in recent years.

“We are likely to see an increase in grant holders next year as a result of the pandemic. I want this review to consider the current challenges facing students and to find out what we can do better. The review will report back to me in the summer of 2021 and will help inform decisions in the context of Budget 2022.”

Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) is the single grant awarding authority for student grants. SUSI entered its ninth year of operations in the academic year 2020/21.

To date SUSI has received over 100,000 student grant applications for the 2020/21 academic year with over 77,500 students assessed as eligible for support.

In the context of the increased demands on the scheme as a consequence of COVID-19, additional funding of €20m was secured in Budget 2021. Improved grant supports for postgraduate students was also secured in Budget 2021 and will be available to qualifying students from next September.

Minister Harris said:

“We will want to hear from you on this too. We will engage with stakeholders early in the New Year to ensure your voice is heard.”


The Student Grant Scheme is a statutory based scheme underpinned by the following legislation:

the Student Support Act of 2011
Student Grant Scheme (which is a Statutory Instrument)
the Student Support Regulations (also a Statutory Instrument)
The Student Support Act 2011 provides some of the key definitions and parameters within which the scheme operates; including the definition of an approved institution, an approved course, and an approved student.

The proposed Terms of Reference are as follows:

1. Maintenance Grant Values and Income Thresholds

2. Definition of an approved course (part-time provision to be examined)

3. Adjacent/Non-Adjacent Rates of Grant

4. Postgraduate Grant Support

5. Bench marking of student supports in Ireland against other jurisdictions

6. Identifying the real cost of:

attending further education in Ireland
attending higher education in Ireland
identifying current supports across FET and HE provision (level 6 to level 10)
The Programme for Government contains the following three commitments regarding SUSI:

a) “Conduct a review of the Student Grant Scheme in 2020, following the impact of COVID-19”;

b) “Review SUSI eligibility criteria and adjacency rates”; and

c) “Address the gap in grant assistance for postgraduate students”

A Request for Tender will be placed on eTenders shortly with a view to appointing consultants to undertake this review in early 2021. is a national database of universities, colleges, institutes and providers of third level, CAO and PLC courses in Ireland. We operate a national search database of courses and colleges.

Steven Galvin

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